Advent in Zagreb 2017: Your Ultimate Guide to the Christmas Market

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The countdown is over, dear readers: Advent is upon us! Zagreb is wrapped in thousands of lights, the air smells like cinnamon and mulled wine, radio stations unleashed their festive playlists, and we’re all ready for the best, biggest Christmas market so far!

Having taken away the title of the Best European Christmas Market two years in a row, Zagreb is not about to joke around where advent is considered, instead raising the stakes this year by aiming for quality over quantity. And yet, locations and activities are aplenty, and one could easily get overwhelmed by the amount of sparkling attractions at every turn. To help you plan your itinerary so you wouldn’t get lost in a crowd, we prepared a handy guide to the holiday extravaganza. Bear in mind that each listed hotspot comes with an abundance of food, drinks, and live music, and you can find detailed schedules and information on working hours by clicking on the provided links. Ready, set, go!


The Showstopper


There’s no place in Zagreb this time of year that’s more deserving of its own postcard than the Ice Park, a stunning skating rink laid out between the Tomislav Square and the iconic Art Pavilion. A quiet laid-back gathering point throughout the rest of the year, the square turns into a dazzling display of ice and lights in December – and the only place where you can work off all those gourmet delights you’ll be feasting on 24/7 and still feel festive along the way. Skip the gym and dust off your skates! Not that confident when it comes to your skating talent? Don’t worry – expert instructors are waiting to help you pull off a perfect pirouette.

The Classics




Take an oasis nestled in the very heart of the city, add a couple of thousand Christmas lights and dozens of darling wooden booths, sprinkle with some upbeat live music, and you have yourself a holiday bomb. To be quite honest, Zrinjevac park could easily stand as a Christmas market on its own: get yourself some mulled wine to warm your hands on, make sure to try hearty traditional dishes on offer, get some lovely hand-made souvenirs as little presents for your loved ones, catch a gig or two and feast your eyes on the dazzling display. Have a sneak peek:




Ready to fool around a bit? This year, one of the most original Advent attractions in Zagreb moves from its former location in Tomićeva street to the Strossmayer Square, tucked between the Ice Park and Zrinjevac park – no excuse to miss it! What makes this particular hotspot stand out in the impressive programme is the array of renowned restaurants gathering in one place to present their staple specialties to the hungry crowd. All of that, of course, accompanied by great music; in the last six years, Fooling Around presented the visitors with more than 500 concerts, DJ events and other various music gigs. Seeing that this year’s theme is called Life as a Circus, we can look forward to an entire month of a quirky, vibrant groove!

European Square


Hidden away just around the upper-right corner of the Jelačić Square, this lovely zone is known as one of the favourite gathering points in December. Looking for a destination that’s a bit less traditional and a bit more urban? Head to the EU Square and enjoy a palette of music gigs, art exhibitions and film screenings throughout the month.


Winter Wonderlands


Zagreb Christmas Tale


The sheer amount of sparkling lights makes for a festive enough atmosphere, but sometimes, you just need to amp it up a bit, you know? Considering that Zagreb doesn’t get a lot of snow throughout the entire winter but one or two blizzardish blasts instead, the good people behind the Advent programme decided to create a frosty fairy-tale to make sure all visitors have an opportunity to enjoy a proper winter wonderland. First is to be found at the Jelačić Square, featuring a nice selection of gourmet delights to keep you going during your Christmas adventure. If there has ever been an Instagram-worthy location, it’s this one – try taking a selfie in front of the frosted scenery, and you’ll quickly find out you might have to stand in line for a while. We all want holiday-themed profile pics, okay?

Marić Passage


For a quick intermezzo and a break from the overbearing crowds, take a short walk through Marić passage – a simple yet enchanting display of white branches enveloped in lights and intertwined to form a magical vaulted tunnel. Enjoy a quiet moment, take a pic or two and head on to the Upper town to…

The Klovićevi Dvori Gallery


I might have gotten ahead of myself by talking about Instagram-worthy spots and postcards, because this one might be the crown jewel after all: the Gradec plateau next to the Klović gallery is actually designed to serve as a photo point, featuring a special frame for you to pose in with the spectacular view of the cathedral in the background. Once you’re done capturing the moment on camera, enjoy some culinary treats, get a couple of souvenirs and enjoy a concert or a choir performance. You can also use the opportunity to go see an exhibition or two, and then carry on to…


The Upper-Towners




Dubbed ‘a small town in its own right’, this lovely promenade really does feel like a whole another world. The range of activities is sure to cater to everyone from the youngest kids to the most demanding of adults: you can look forward to live gigs featuring some of the most renowned Croatian musicians and bands, DJ events, art workshops, a selection of mouthwatering dishes, and an overall delightful ambiance. Oh, and they have their own New Year’s Eve celebration.

Grič Tale


A bit above the Stross promenade, nestled between the Lotrščak tower and the DHMZ headquarters, you’ll find the Vranyczany plateau, a niche advent zone dedicated to all jazz lovers looking for a music fix… Accompanied by a gourmet treat or two, of course. Take your loved one by the hand, dance the night away, and don’t forget to make a stop at…

Café de Matoš


If you’ve ever been to the Upper town, you’ve surely noticed the sculpture of Antun Gustav Matoš sat on a bench, right? It’s holiday season and no one should be alone – stick around for a while and keep the famous Croatian poet company. You’ll find a couple of pop-up shops where you can warm up with some food and drinks, as well as get more souvenirs if you didn’t do your shopping in the Lower town. Oh, one more thing: all of you coupled ones out there can buy a small padlock, turn it into a lovelock by scribbling your initials and a cute message on it, and fasten in on the fence to immortalise your romantic moment.

Haven’t had enough yet? Don’t worry, we’re still left with…


The Extracurriculars

We all know the point of visiting Christmas markets is to feast, drink and spend time with people you love while soaking up the festive atmosphere. However, there’s more on offer than mulled wine and sausages, and it would be a shame to miss some of the attractive activities that are part of the Advent programme this winter:

Nikola Tesla – Mind from the Future


Photo credit:

Hosted by the Meštrović Pavilion (also known as the Mosque), this phenomenal exhibition has been the talk of the town for months now. Opened on November 25, the engaging, innovative display presents Tesla’s life and work in a way that hasn’t yet been seen in these parts. Seeing that the pavilion is located a 10-minute walk (or two tram stops) from the Jelačić square, there’s no excuse for missing this unique attraction. If you need a break from the Christmas frenzy, make sure to stop by and give some love to one of the greatest minds of our time.

Backo Mini Express


Every single thing in the world gets infinitesimally more appealing when made as a scale model, right? Your inner kid – and your actual kids, in case you’re bringing them along – will be more than delighted by the Backo Mini Express, a model train that got a special themed makeover this season. The model spans on three square metres of space and features the ski slope on Sljeme and a miniature version of the Ice Park on Tomislav Square, complete with holiday-themed trains, Christmas songs and festive decor.

The Croatian Railway Museum


Now that you’ve seen the model, how about some actual trains? The Croatian Railway Museum prepared a special programme for the holiday season, its main feature being the attractive exhibition ‘The Orient in Zagreb’ dedicated to the intricacies of the Orient Express system. You can also take a look around a model train displayed in front of the museum or learn about the international railway, while the younger visitors can attend an educational workshop. In case you travelled to Zagreb by train, round up the experience by writing a thoughtful note on your ticket and leave it to the museum staff to store it in their collection of memories.

That’s it! Have a lovely holiday season and make sure to send us your best Zagreb Christmas pics. Visit Advent in Zagreb for more information and ideas, put on some warm clothes, and bring on the cheer!


Photo credit: Advent in Zagreb


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